Navan solicitor Vincent O'Reilly received a standing ovation at a sitting of Trim Circuit Court to mark his retirement as state solicitor for County Meath. For the past 36 years, Mr O'Reilly prepared thousands of cases on behalf of the State for hearing in the courts ranging from the district to the supreme court.
The tributes to Mr O'Reilly's in-depth knowledge of the law, professionalism, efficiency and compassion were led by Judge Patrick Quinn, who noted that Mr O'Reilly was the longest serving state solicitor in the country.
The judge remarked that it was ironic that Mr O'Reilly had to retire as state solicitor at a time when 70 was considered by some as the new 30. Judge Quinn stressed that while Vincent O'Reilly was retiring from his position as state solicitor he would continue in practice with the firm of Steen O'Reilly where he has been a partner since 1973.
Like other speakers Judge Quinn referred to the support Mr O'Reilly had received from his wife Kate.
The judge added that Mr O'Reilly deserved the gratitude of the citizens of Meath for his years of service and a job well done and expressed the hope he would now have more time to pursue his hobby of vintage cars.
Prosecutor Carl Hanahoe BL said there had been an enormous increase in the volume and complexity of the state solicitor's workload over the years but Mr O'Reilly had managed to take all those developments in his stride preparing many high profile cases involving sex assaults, murders, fatal road crashes and drugs for hearing.
He said that Mr O'Reilly had also been ahead of the curve in the manner in which he had displayed empathy and understanding to the victims of crime and the vulnerable. Mr O'Reilly show anything other than patience especially to younger barristers, he added.
Incoming state solicitor for Co Meath, Liam Keane, who is also president of the Meath Solicitors Bar Association, said the interests of justice had been well served by Mr O'Reilly's during his years of service. Mr Keane said it was his and his colleagues hope that Mr O'Reilly and his wife Kate would now have every opportunity to drive all over Europe in the most vintage manner.
Sgt Tom Mahon on behalf of the gardai expressed his gratitude for the direction Mr O'Reilly had given to gardai in preparing books of evidence for court cases.
Court clerk Brian Leonard on behalf of the Court Service wished Mr O'Reilly all the best in his semi-retirement adding he did not think the courts had seen the last of him with his return to private practice.
Thanking the speakers for their good wishes and tributes Mr O'Reilly quipped that as he listened to their comments he wondered at times who they were talking about. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation to his wife Kate, sons and fellow solicitors William and Ronan, staff - present and past as well as those in the legal profession, gardai, state agencies and courts service he had worked with over the years for their support friendship and assistance.
There had been enormous changes over his time as state solicitor with an increase in the number of court sittings and recalled that on one occasion he had not got home until 11pm having completed five jury trials on that day.